The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that there will be a further delay to the Pensions Dashboards Programme.
Pension dashboards will allow individuals to view information about their pensions, including state pension, in one place online. This will put savers in control and help reconnect them with their lost pension pots.
The government department announced in a statement on 2 March 2023 that the programme will be unable to meet the first connection deadline of 31 August 2023.
It has now been delayed indefinitely – as the DWP has not given any details of when the programme will be ready.
Pensions secretary Laura Trott said: “ The Pensions Dashboards Programme, under the supervision of the Money and Pensions Service, is responsible for delivering the digital architecture which underpins pensions dashboards. The project is a significant undertaking, requiring the development of new technology that will permit individuals to find their pensions by searching thousands of pension schemes which collectively hold millions of pensions records.
“The first connection deadline is currently 31 August 2023. However, additional time is required to deliver the complex technical solution to enable the connection of pension providers and schemes, in accordance with the connection deadlines set out in the Pensions Dashboards Regulations 2022 and the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) corresponding pensions dashboard rules for pension providers.
“More time is needed to deliver this complex build, and for the pensions industry to help facilitate the successful connection of a wide range of different IT systems to the dashboards digital architecture.”
Reset the programme
Trott went on to say that she has “initiated a reset of the Pensions Dashboards Programme” in which DWP will play a full role.
She added that a new chair of the programme board will develop a new plan for delivery.
“The framework set out in the regulations for pensions dashboards remains fit for purpose,” Trott said. “DWP will legislate at the earliest opportunity to amend the timing of these obligations to provide clarity to schemes. We will ensure that the pensions industry has adequate time and the necessary technical information to prepare for any revised connection deadlines. I will provide a further update to the House of Commons before summer recess.
“Pensions dashboards will be a vital tool to help savers plan for their retirement and the government remains thoroughly committed to their delivery. I know this commitment is shared across the pensions industry. The huge consumer benefits of pensions dashboards are yet to be realised, but it is vital that the foundation upon which the dashboards ecosystem is built is safe, secure, and works for both the pensions industry users connecting to it and the end users of the service.
“While there are issues to work through, we must not lose sight of these benefits. It is essential that scheme preparation for pensions dashboards continues, and we will press ahead to deliver this technology.”
Steve Webb, partner at pension consultancy firm LCP and a former pensions minister, said: “This latest delay in the roll out of pensions dashboards to the public is deeply frustrating. The end goal, of a website where people can see all of their pensions in one place would be of huge value to pension savers.
“It will help people to find pension pots they have lost track of and will enable them to rationalise and make best use of the pots that they do have. The government must ensure that any delay is kept to an absolute minimum. The lack of a firm new timetable will leave industry in limbo and this uncertainty must be resolved as soon as possible.”
Rachel Vahey, AJ Bell head of policy development, added: “The DWP has torn up the plans for pensions dashboards and has decided to start again. After years of work across the industry and multiple government bodies, this a staggering development and means dashboards are now at risk of being mothballed until the next parliament, and may never become a reality at all.
“For the industry this is frustrating, with countless hours of careful work put into developing dashboards. More importantly, this a huge let down for consumers. Dashboards had the potential to empower pension savers but they’ve been badly let down by a project that has over-promised and under-delivered.
“The previous timetable setting out connection times for pension schemes, and a possible launch date for the public has been scrapped, and the public and industry now are left rudderless with no idea of the current state of play. There is no date for dashboards launch, and there are now major doubts about whether the project can be delivered before the next election.
“Pensions dashboards are an important development which had the potential to shake up pension saving in the UK. They would have given people the ability to see all their pensions in one place, leading to better engagement and helping savers making better pension decisions. The government has fumbled this opportunity. And in doing so they have let down UK pension savers.
“Developing pensions dashboards was always an ambitious project. To be effective it had to show someone all their pension savings – but that meant including all private pension schemes, public sector schemes and state pensions. The government should have got this right from the start. But they have now effectively pulled the plug just weeks before connection was due to start.”